Winter Returns: December 4-5, 2017

Sunrise over a snow-covered landscape in St. Paul on December 5, 2017
Sunrise over a snow-covered landscape in St. Paul on December 5, 2017
Courtesy: MNDNR State Climatology Office


Winter returned to Minnesota on December 4th, with plummeting temperatures and a blanket of wind-swept snow.

An intensifying area of low pressure centered over south central Minnesota at noon allowed warm and muggy air to surge into the region, with air temperatures in the middle 50s to lower 60s, and dew point temperatures not far behind. The Twin Cities set a record high air temperature of 57, breaking the old record of 56 degrees set in 1941. An even more impressive record was set at Rochester, which reached 64 degrees. The dew point temperature in the Twin Cities reached 55 degrees, a record for the date as well, and the second latest date since 1902 with such a high value.

Rain showers developed in the early afternoon as winds switched to the southwest and then west. By late evening, the center of low pressure had moved to Duluth and cold air and snow swept across central and southern Minnesota. The snow, combined with wind gusts of 40-50 mph, reduced visibilities dramatically, even in urban areas. For 2-3 hours, the storm had the appearance of a major one, with howling winds, bursts of heavy blowing-and-drifting snow, and roads icing over quickly. The air temperature in the Twin Cities fell from 57 degrees at 2pm, to 27 degrees by midnight. During that time, most roads in Minnesota became difficult at best, as sheets of ice and snow-packed surfaces developed.

There were two main bands of snow. One heavy band of snow fell in northwest Minnesota with 8.5 inches reported eight miles east of Thief River Falls. The heaviest snowfall total reported was 10 inches near Wannaska in Roseau County. Light snow continued to fall over northeast Minnesota during the day on December 5. Another band of snow moved through the Twin Cities from 8pm to around midnight during the late evening of December 4, reducing visibility to a 1/2 mile at the Twin Cities International airport with snow and winds gusting to 40mph. The Twin Cities International Airport saw 2.1 inches of snow by midnight.

Below is a list of snowfall reports gathered so far by the National Weather Service


924 AM CST TUE DEC 05 2017 

..TIME...   ...EVENT...      ...CITY LOCATION...     ...LAT.LON... 
..DATE...   ....MAG....      ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE.... 

0900 AM     HEAVY SNOW       2 N WANNASKA            48.69N 95.73W 
12/05/2017  M10.0 INCH       Roseau             MN   PUBLIC          

            STORM TOTAL 

Public Information Statement 
National Weather Service Duluth MN 
903 AM CST Tue Dec 5 2017 

...Snowfall Reports... 

Location                     Amount  

...Ashland County... 
2 NNW Mellen                 5.8 in                          
Mellen                       4.0 in                          
Madeline Island              2.9 in                          
Ashland                      2.6 in                          
3 N Butternut                2.0 in                          

...Bayfield County... 
Bayfield 9N                  4.6 in                          
3 E Sand Bay                 4.6 in                          
4 W Clam Lake                4.0 in                          
11 W Drummond                3.5 in                          
3 WSW Ashland                2.5 in                          
1 N Moquah                   2.2 in                          

...Douglas County... 
Gordon                       3.6 in                          
2 N Solon Springs            2.2 in                          
1 WSW Maple                  2.2 in                          

...Iron County... 
Saxon 1wsw                   6.0 in                          
1 NW Manitowish              2.1 in                          

...Price County... 
5 WSW Butternut              2.6 in                          
1 N Park Falls               1.0 in                          
1 S Phillips                 0.3 in                          

...Sawyer County... 
2 WNW Seeley                 6.0 in                          
New Post                     5.8 in                          
1 ENE Radisson               5.0 in                          

...Washburn County... 
Sarona                       5.8 in                          
2 E Sarona                   5.0 in                          
4 S Earl                     3.8 in                          
Birchwood                    3.0 in 


...Carlton County... 
Holyoke                      0.9 in                          
Wrenshall                    0.2 in                          

...Cass County... 
Federal Dam 3 WNW            1.0 in                          
4 ESE Casino                 0.1 in                          

...Cook County... 
4 W Grand Marais             1.9 in                          
4 ENE Lutsen                 0.5 in                          
2 WSW Lutsen                 0.4 in                          

...Crow Wing County... 
Brainerd                     0.1 in                          
1 NNW Fort Ripley            0.1 in                          

...Itasca County... 
Northome                     1.7 in                          

...Koochiching County... 
International Falls          1.0 in                          

...Lake County... 
1 W Silver Bay               0.8 in                          
3 ENE Alger                  0.5 in                          
Wolf Ridge                   0.1 in                          

...St. Louis County... 
Kabetogama General Store     2.0 in                          
5 N Virginia                 1.0 in                          
3E Orr                       1.0 in                          
Cook                         0.5 in                          
2 W Leonidas                 0.5 in                          
Babbit                       0.2 in                          
NWS Duluth                   0.1 in 
Public Information Statement 
National Weather Service La Crosse WI 
749 AM CST Tue Dec 5 2017 

...24 Hour Snowfall Reports... 

Location                     Amount    Time/Date       Lat/Lon              


...Mower County... 
Grand Meadow                 0.2 in    0600 AM 12/05   43.71N/92.56W        

...Olmsted County... 
Byron 4 North                0.5 in    0700 AM 12/05   44.09N/92.64W        
2 NE Rochester               0.2 in    0600 AM 12/05   44.04N/92.44W        
Rochester International Airp 0.2 in    0554 AM 12/05   43.91N/92.50W        

...Wabasha County... 
Wabasha                      0.4 in    0700 AM 12/05   44.38N/92.05W        


...Trempealeau County... 
Osseo                        0.5 in    0700 AM 12/05   44.58N/91.22W        

Observations are collected from a variety of sources with varying 
equipment and exposures. We thank all volunteer weather observers 
for their dedication. Not all data listed are considered official.

Last modified: December 9, 2017
For more information contact: [email protected]


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